Cal Jernigan – Senior Pastor
I am writing this post today from Washington, DC.
Once a year there is an event held in this city that is of particular interest to people of faith. While it is officially called the National Prayer Breakfast, it really should be referred to as the International Prayer Breakfast as there are people from 160 countries who attend this event. This was my second time attending, and this year I had the privilege of being here with a few of our staff and their spouses. My wife Lisa has been here four times. In addition to our folks, there are quite a number of people from the state of Arizona who we have also had the privilege of sharing some time with. It’s been simply delightful.
The reason I’m telling you this is to let you know of something truly encouraging that takes place on a weekly basis in Washington DC. It’s a piece of really good news amidst so many issues of concern we may have with this place. Every Wednesday morning believers from the Senate meet, and every Thursday morning believers of the House meet. As they meet, they commit themselves to forget their partisan differences; they meet to pray! In fact, the National Prayer Breakfast is simply an extension of this event which they open up to the public. It’s our opportunity to join them in praying for our country.
The tradition of this gathering goes back some 64 years. It was then that President Dwight Eisenhower mentioned to some of his friends that the White House had proven to be the loneliest house he had ever lived in. To support and encourage him, his friends decided to come together weekly to pray for him. Thus a tradition was born.
These days, the highlight of the National Prayer Breakfast is when the President of the United States takes the podium and shares his thoughts, reflections and hopes and how they intersect with his personal faith in God. Today’s event was an especially meaningful occasion as this would be the final time Barack Obama would have the opportunity to address this crowd and this event. As you might imagine, it is at this moment that some people’s cynicism to the President tends to peak, as questioning the integrity of our President’s faith has become somewhat of a national pastime. While I have no way of knowing the status of Barack Obama’s personal relationship with Jesus, I do know that I was both blessed and encouraged by what he shared today. In fact, a number of people have already suggested, and I concur with them, that this was the finest speech of his entire presidency! He spoke of a theme I can’t imagine being more relevant for the days in which we find ourselves… the dilemma between living by faith or living in fear. He quoted 2 Timothy 1:7 which says,
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
As he developed his message, President Obama spoke of how frightening it is to have the weight of world literary resting on your shoulders and of how many times he simply wasn’t sure which decision to make through difficult times. Yet he testified that his faith in God has sustained and carried him through each dilemma, throughout the fulfillment of his two terms. He made it very clear that if your faith isn’t genuine, it really isn’t worth much of anything. When it is genuine, it changes everything. I simply can’t disagree with this. Faith matters.
Near the conclusion of this message, the President quoted Abraham Lincoln who famously said,
“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.”
What a great place to be driven.
Where are your prayers taking you today? Whom are you relying upon?